Auction of fantasy Christmas trees helps fill real needs
All the glitter and glamour in the ballroom at The Westin Seattle on Sunday afternoon was the prelude to O'Christmas Trees, a three-day fundraising event beginning Monday to help Providence Senior and Community Services provide housing, health care and hospice services to seniors and other King County residents who need help.
Seattle Times health reporter
Providence O'Christmas Trees eventsThe Westin Seattle, 1900 Fifth Ave., Grand Ballroom
Monday: Family Affair TreeView from noon to 8 p.m. Free admission to preview trees to be auctioned and partake in a variety of life entertainment, kiddie craft projects and visits with "Santa."
Tuesday: Silver Bells Luncheon from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Advance reservations required, $60 per person. Call 206-938-2788 or reserve online at www.providenceochristmastrees.org. The event will feature a Luly Yang fashion show, a preview of the trees to be auctioned, and — of course — "Santa."
What was going on in that downtown hotel ballroom?
Straight ahead, tiny, model-thin figures were parading around in skimpy, glittery gowns. In a nearby corner, boxes of coveted goods — some with tags still on — were strewn on the floor. And a glance around revealed piles of fluffy white stuff.
The men and women scurrying around admitted they were all in it for the money.
In fact, all the glitter and glamour filling The Westin Seattle's ballroom Sunday afternoon was the prelude to Providence O'Christmas Trees, a three-day fundraising event beginning Monday to help Providence Senior and Community Services provide housing, health care and hospice services to seniors and other King County residents who need help.
A bevy of volunteers, buoyed by donations from local sponsors, was hard at work fashioning 15 of the most shimmery, over-the-top, fantasy-filled Christmas trees in anyone's wildest imagination, getting them ready to be auctioned off to the highest bidders Wednesday.
The skimpy party clothes, it quickly became apparent, were Seattle designer Luly Yang's fall collection, miniaturized to fit Barbie-sized dolls on a "runway" circling her tree. Yang's "Red Carpet Runway" was being fashioned, like the others, to amaze, delight and eventually capture the cash of generous donors.
The boxes of coveted goods were toys, toys and more toys — nearly 2,000 of them, donated by the friends of Eduardo Khawam, who was designing a tree around "Toy Story," a fantasy about the secret life of toys.
"It makes me feel good," said Khawam, in his fifth year of volunteering. "It comes from my heart, and it may help someone live one more day."
The fluffy white stuff was fake snow piled high atop a gloriously sparkly froth of a tree called "Stopping by Woods," designed by Terry Tazioli.
Despite tough times, nearly 850 people have signed up for the sold-out Gala Dinner & Auction this year, at $275 a plate, compared with 740 people last year.
The goal is to raise more than $1 million, also more than last year's take.
"We're not going to let a slow economy stop us," said Robert Hellrigel, CEO of Providence Senior and Community Services.
Last year, one tree went for $40,000.
Some people buy a tree, then donate it to a hospital or other facility.
All the money raised at the auction will go to programs, said Patricia Szabo at Providence, that include Providence Hospice of Seattle, Providence Supportive Housing, Providence Marianwood nursing home, Providence Mount St. Vincent, Providence Infusion and Pharmacy Services, Providence ElderPlace, Heritage House at the Market and Providence Home Services.
Carol M. Ostrom: 206-464-2249 or email@example.com
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